The loved ones of 21-year-old Zane Berner are mourning and remembering the Waterloo man following his death.
Zane died Thursday morning when his 1987 Toyota truck made contact with the front end of a 2011 Hyundai sedan while changing lanes on I-255 heading southbound. The truck lost control and overturned on the northbound shoulder near the Dupo exit.
Berner was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Clair County Coroner.
Both occupants of the Hyundai were checked by EMS at the scene and refused medical transport.
Family members said Berner was returning from truck driving school when he died. He had recently obtained a commercial driver’s license so he could change careers to become a full-time semi-truck driver.
He previously worked at Sun Basket in Valmeyer and Waterloo Walmart.
Russell Berner, Zane’s father, said his son’s truck was one of his passions. He had outfitted it himself with powerful speakers and LED lighting.
“He always really liked that truck he got when he was 16,” Russell recalled. “That was his second one. He has two identical ones.”
“We worked on them together and did everything together, really,” he added. “He’s my only son.”
Russell said Zane also enjoyed riding ATVs, camping and working with his hands.
Russell said the best memory of his son was “just working on stuff and seeing how he can fix stuff on his own, like me.”
Father and son worked together on bicycles when Zane was younger, fixing or upgrading them, sometimes to sell online. When Zane got older, the duo worked on trucks.
When it came to wiring the speakers and lighting in his own vehicle, Zane surpassed his father.
“I couldn’t do it,” Russell said with a smile.
Zane also made friends through his hobbies.
Alan Horn said he got to know Zane after he became friends with his son, Michael, in school.
“He became a second son to me as we took him along camping, fishing, boating and (he) hung around a lot working on bicycles and being a good kid around mine,” Horn said. “(He was) a good representation for my son.”
Part of the way Zane set a good example was by volunteering at a local food pantry with his mother, Christina, for several years.
“All the women out there loved him,” Russell said. “He was so helpful for them. We keep getting calls from all them saying they’re so happy to have met him and been with him.
“He was really caring and helpful.”
That care extended to Zane’s pets, which he loved, and his girlfriend.
“He did meet the love of his life, Heather Evans,” Russell said. “That’s another thing that I’m proud of – that he got to experience true love. They were inseparable. If he wasn’t at work, they were together. I really feel for her.”
In addition to those already mentioned, Zane is survived by several family members.
A friend of Zane’s, Kayla Wehrman, has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for things like funeral expenses. It has raised $130 so far.
Although that total is not yet very high, Russell said the family appreciates the effort.
“It really helps a lot,” he said. “It’s been tough.”
Go to the Republic-Times Facebook page to find the link for that fundraiser.
Zane will have a memorial visitation this Saturday at Quernheim Funeral Home in Waterloo. See the full obituary on page 3A.